Sawgrass Beach Club Bids Farewell to Old Facility

Article excerpt

Byline: Jackie Rooney, Shorelines columnist

Out with the old and in with the new. On Dec. 26, 30 years of history came tumbling down when the Sawgrass Beach Club was razed. Sawgrass Country Club resident Jimmy Stewart was alerted to the event by a cell phone call from his wife, Linda.

"It was half gone by the time I got there," Stewart said. "When I left, the only thing standing was the front door and a wall. After all those years of history, it was all gone in a matter of hours. We've lived here for 10 years and were [Beach Club] Friday night regulars."

The Stewarts' grandsons, Jimmy and Kyle Losee, 14 and 4, were visiting for the holidays. Kyle was very impressed by the demolition. Stewart reported that his youngest grandson said, "Oh, Nana, that's way cool."

Construction of a $7 million, 25,000-square-foot replacement begins immediately and could be completed by Dec. 1. "It was a wonderful place, and we certainly had a lot of fun, but we're going to have a lot more fun down the road when it's completed," Stewart said.

Auchter Company Project Superintendent James Plant said it took four hours to tear the clubhouse down and about five days to remove rubble. Amazing. I can't even clear my desk that fast.

Ponte Vedra Federated Republican Women's Club President Janet Westling is looking forward to the inaugural ball for Gov. Bush in Tallahassee Monday. She said she had a fabulous time Dec. 17 at a Christmas holiday reception at the governor's mansion for Republican Party of Florida campaign staff. People were there "from all over the state, and the food was terrific," Westling said.

St. Johns County Sheriff Neil Perry, his wife, Syd, and St. Augustine resident Susan Van Hoeck were also there. Neil Perry, Van Hoeck and Westling were part of the team that coordinated the St. Johns County Jeb for Governor campaign.

Each year, the media review what transpired the year before. I prefer to speculate about what the new year will bring. Some of the following 2003 predictions are certain to come true; others are pure conjecture. Short-range prophecies include:

-- At 11 a.m. Wednesday, I predict the Newcomers Club of the Beaches will hold a meeting in Tournament Hall, the Sawgrass Marriott Resort. Guest speaker Barbara Turley, a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, will talk about how to "Get Organized in Spite of Yourself." The luncheon is $18. Call 285-1864 for reservations and 910-3599 for membership information.

-- Friends of the Library-Ponte Vedra Beach will be predictably busier than ever in 2003. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, at the library, Ponte Vedra residents Don Weiss, former executive director of the National Football League, and journalist Chuck Day will talk about their newly co-authored book, The Making of the Super Bowl. Admission is free, but space is limited so call 273-3990 to reserve.

-- From 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach is predicted to have an artist reception for Jo Ellen Siddall's exhibit "Primal Balance." The exhibition of paintings and pastel drawings inspired by the environment, ocean, lakes and Florida springs runs until Feb. 8. For details call the center, at 50 Executive Way, 280-0614.

-- Maarten Van de Guchte, executive director of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, will preview the museum's spring exhibition, "European Masterworks from the San Carlos National Museum of Art, Mexico City," 7 to 8:30 p.m., Jan. 13. This free program will be held at the library and sponsored jointly by FOCUS Cummer and The Friends of the Library.

-- Ex-CIA officer Burton Gerber will speak at the World Affairs Council on "Terrorism and the Intelligence Challenge" at 7 p.m., Jan. 14 at the University of North Florida. Gerber directed the agency's operational programs in the Soviet Union and Europe for eight years. I predict you will be intrigued by this fascinating talk. …